How To Plan a Road Trip

Maybe it is an oxy-moron to be writing an article that’s telling you what you need to “plan” for a road trip since half the fun of road trips is not having things set in stone. Even though the element of surprise is what makes a road trip exciting, a little safe background will go a long way to help you avoid the type of surprise that may ruin your trip. However, even if you spend ten hours mapping out an itinerary there will still be inevitable speed bumps. From the research I have done, the important things that most people overlook might make the difference between misery and bliss. By sorting out these craters, you will have the grace to cruise over the speed bumps.

The first matter of concern is whom it is that will be taking this road trip. To be blunt: If the travel partners are not compatible they might as well stay home and play video games. At least they will be killing one another in a virtual sense. I’m exaggerating. But it is a serious deal if people don’t get along and they are stuck together for hours like sardines in a can.

What makes people compatible for road trips is not that they are necessarily best friends or exactly alike – though these are worthy things to consider. The main concern is that they have a similar purpose for the trip. What I mean by this is say that one person lives and breathes urban sidewalk and all he wants to do is stare at open fields for hours, camp out and catch fish for dinner. But his travel companion, Suzy Q., wants to hit up a town with posh shops and stacked options of what to do because she lives and breathes cow manure. In this case, I say play video games.

Other things potential travel buddies would be wise to dialogue about are how much money they each what to spend, how picky they are about sleeping conditions and if they have any major pet peeves. People should review issues they have that society might deem “odd” and communicate them to the other. Make sure your travel friend is aware of issues you may have like a blender-sounding snore, needing two showers a day and being deathly allergic to cicadas.

Even though I didn’t write about it first, safety is first. As far as your transportation is concerned, do an equipment check to make sure all the parts are in place and functioning like a healthy machine, or ask a mechanic to have a look. Pack a detailed road map and also some water and food in case of an emergency where you’re stranded. It is a wise investment to purchase a CB radio if you do not already own one. “But I have my trusty cell phone,” you say. And I say, “Not even Verizon wireless reaches those parts of the highway that you are planning to traverse along. Why do you think all truckers have CBs?”

Now it’s time to build your puzzle – but loosely ‘cuz remember there will always be surprises. Depending on your personality you may want to make hotel reservations in advance. I recommend at least seeing what options you have along the way, even if you don’t make your reservation until the day you arrive some place. Try to gather ideas from as many sources as possible: friends, books, websites, travel books, etc. The more time you put into it, the better you will feel about your trip because the more personalized it will be.

When I was studying abroad in London, my mom flew out from Ohio to visit me. I wanted a peaceful excursion outside the city because I knew it would appeal to my mom’s personality. I spent the most time finding our sleeping accommodations; which were in Cornwall, on England’s southern coast. I’m thankful now that I did because I found an affordable, quaint bed and breakfast called “The Old Vicarage”. The owner was shocked that an American had found his cozy nook–having been a treasure to many locals.

For added pleasure it is fun to plan for things like trip ambiance. Make a few sweet mixes; remember to pack delicious snack food, and a huge fluffy pillow for good naps. Now take two minutes to visualize yourself as a heroic explorer whose mission is to find joy in the open roads – it’s up to you now!